Ecojustice08’s Weblog

The Ecojustice ’08 Challenge Begins by Emily
April 22, 2008, 6:25 am
Filed under: Emily, Uncategorized

Welcome to Emily’s Ecojustice 2008 challenge. Those of you who are book bloggers are familiar with the concept of a challenge. Typically, you are asked to read a certain number of books from some sort of category and to write blog posts on those books. This challenge will be somewhat different in that it will be asking you to choose from among a number of environmentally-friendly actions and to post on your experiences implementing them.

Mandarine once posed the question to all of us, “What if seven billion people did what I’m about to do?” This challenge has grown from that question. My immediate answer to it was, “Well, I’m not one of the seven billion people going out there and buying a Ford Excessive just because the company has told me it’s the cool vehicle I must have,” and “I’m not one of the seven billion people who drinks expensive water from plastic bottles when I’ve got perfectly good tap water to drink,” and “I’m certainly not one of the seven billion people jumping all over the chance to own a McMansion.” All right, so there are those of us who pat ourselves on the back, because we gave up the notion of “keeping up with the Joneses” or flaunting our wealth, oh, around the same time we graduated from high school, most especially if doing so is contributing to the degradation of our planet and all who live here.

However, the question is far too clever to keep us patting ourselves on the back for long if we think about these examples instead: what if seven billion people got all their food from factory farms? What if seven billion people drove their cars to and from work 20+ miles every day? What if seven billion people threw out all their junk mail without recycling it?

I was beginning to get depressed. Then I began to think in a different way: what if seven billion people all decided they weren’t going to buy a car that didn’t get at least 40 mpg? What if seven billion people decided they weren’t going to buy anything other than energy efficient light bulbs? What if seven billion people decided that rather than eating half a pound of meat a day, they were only going to eat half a pound of meat per week? What if seven billion people decided they weren’t going to buy anything that didn’t come in a recyclable container? Businesses might begin squirming…and then scrambling. After all, it’s merely a matter of supply and demand. If we live based on the premise that we don’t want companies dictating to us what we can and can’t buy, and if we start demanding what we want instead of letting corporations create demand for us via advertising, we might be better able to save this planet.

Thus, this challenge began brewing in my mind. Maybe through this wonderful resource the internet, an international group of us could band together to challenge ourselves to live our lives just a little bit differently. Maybe some of us would be willing to make some choices that might not be the most convenient or the most comfortable but that wouldn’t be completely inconvenient or uncomfortable, because we care more about saving the planet than we do about our own conveniences and comfort. Maybe each of us would tell at least five friends about the challenge, who would then pass it onto others. Eventually, maybe, we could begin to change things for the better. Maybe future generations, then, won’t have to clean up such a big mess.

Before I get started on the actual challenge, I want to explain why this is an ecojustice challenge and not an environmental one. The term “ecojustice” encompasses justice for all of creation (plant, other animal, and human alike). It does not assume any one species (i.e. human) is better than any other species. It assumes that within the human race, those who are most negatively affected by the rape of the earth are the poor (e.g. N.I.M.B.Y. campaigns are very successful in middle and upper-middle class neighborhoods, not so much in poor, inner-city neighborhoods) and that by making this planet a safer and better place to live, all will benefit. It assumes that every living being on this planet deserves its rightful, ecological place (whether certain species want others here or not). It also assumes that we humans are the ones doing the most damage with the most means to stop what we are doing.

So, here is how this challenge will work. The first step is for anyone who wants to participate to pass the link onto at least five other people (or even if you don’t plan to participate, if you like the idea, please pass it on). If you have a blog of your own, this can easily be accomplished merely by linking to this site in a post on your own blog. Below is a list of things you can choose to do. Once every quarter between now and April 21, 2009, I will add to this list. Your challenge is to choose something from this list, to experiment with it, and to post about it here. Or, if you’d rather not post, that’s fine. You can just choose what you want and leave comments on this blog. You can choose to implement as many or as few from the list as you would like. You can choose to stick with one (or more) for an entire quarter, or you can mix and match (one — or more — this month, a different one next month, etc.). My hope is that by the end of the year, at least one item from the whole list will have become a way of life for you and your family. And if you’re already doing some or all of these things, come up with others you want to do, share them with us, and post on them instead.

To join the blog as a posting member, please send an email to: ecojustice08 AT gmail DOT com with your user name and the email address you’d like to use for the purposes of this blog. I will add you to the list of users. Also, please post on your own blog, if you have one. That’s it. And now, here are your choices for this quarter:

1. Choose one day a week in which you will not use your car at all (barring a major emergency, like having to drive your spouse/child to the hospital for stitches). Before you immediately dismiss this one, because you have to drive to and from work every day, please think about it. Is there no one with whom you could carpool two days a week? If so, the day you’re not driving would be the perfect day not to use your car at all.

2. Choose one “black out night” per week. All lights and all electrical appliances are off by 7:30 p.m. and don’t go on again until the next morning. What will you do without lights, television, your computer? Well, the weather’s getting nice where many of us live. Sit out on the porch/deck and tell stories. Read by candle light. Write letters by candle light. Play games by candle light. You know, people did this sort of thing for thousands of years. My guess is that if you have kids, this will be an exciting and fun challenge for them.

3. Choose two days a week in which you are only going to eat organic and/or locally-grown food. Do you know that inorganic farming is one of the best examples of evolution that we’ve got going these days? All the pesticides that have been used to grow our food have helped to create “super bugs” who are becoming more and more resistant to our chemicals. We’re definitely losing this battle in more ways than one. Talk to the people at your local farmer’s markets. Many of them are growing their food organically anyway; they just aren’t certified, because it’s a difficult and expensive process to be so. Buying locally, of course, cuts down on the oil used to transport food long distances.

4. If you need to go anywhere that’s within a 2-mile round trip radius of your home, walk or bike. Where might this be? The first place that springs to mind for me is your children’s school bus stop. Perhaps the post office is close to your home. The library? For me, it’s both the post office and the bank. If you’re super lucky, maybe you have a farmer’s market that’s close by. Or maybe you don’t live close enough to anything, but you do work close by to that deli, say, where you always drive to pick up lunch.

5. Read that challenging book about the environment that you’ve been putting off reading, you know the one you don’t want to read, because it might make you a little uncomfortable (e.g. The World without Us, Diet for a Small Planet, Affluenza). Read it. Post about it. Maybe implement an idea or two based on what you’ve read.

6. Buy only those things sold in recyclable packaging and make sure you recycle that packaging.

I’ve made my choices for this first quarter, and they are: 2, 3, and (those who know me, know I’d have to choose this one) 5 (which book? Much Depends on Dinner: The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos of an Ordinary Meal by Margaret Visser) Stay tuned for my future posts, and I hope to hear from you soon. (Oh, and suggestions for future items to add to the list are very welcome.)

30 Comments so far
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Brilliant, Emily. I have posted about this on my blog and joined your wonderful challenge.

Comment by charlotteotter

[…] I chanced upon Emily’s EcoJustice Challenge, launched today! I quote verbatim: So, here is how this challenge will work. The first step is for […]

Pingback by The EcoJustice Challenge « Charlotte’s Web

Some suggestions for the list:
Grow vegetables
Line dry clothes

Comment by Make Tea Not War

Ms. Make Tea, all good ideas that will see themselves on the list by the end of the year.

Comment by Emily

I found you by way of Charlotte. This is a great idea! I will be posting on this later tonight.

Comment by debra

Just a thought: I don’t know if you have any tame Web designers, but a button that we could upload to our side-bars would be fabulous. I do love a button.

Comment by charlotteotter

Good idea, Charlotte. Anyone out there reading this want to design a button for me?

Comment by ecojustice08

This site is very, very cool. First off I need to let you know that yesterday, in honor of Earthday, it was lights out at 9:00pm with only a low wattage bulb for reading (I couldn’t dig up any candles). No television either. I recycled at least fifty pounds this morning–mostly magazines–and am trying now to figure out a way to work 2 of your eco-choices into my life-style. I do drive a car that gets 40mpg (at least that’s what the manufacturer claims) and I’m tempted to try the “one day without driving” plan but it would have to be on the weekend. The lights out at 7:30 sounds plausible too. I would suggest some type of activist action, like figuring out a way to boycott companies that don’t prove to be green. GREAT idea–my sis!

Comment by Ian

Hello! I am happy to participate and will link in a post on my blog very soon. (and email you the requested info) I already do #1, in fact I only drive 3 or 4 days each week, and I also already eat mostly local and organic. I will choose 2 and 5 for this quarter and more later.
For a future list, maybe growing some of one’s own food? even herbs on a windowsill could count.
Thank you for this challenge and the thought and work you put into it. TJ

Comment by toujoursjacques

Hi Emily
Ok, I’m good with this, and about to post on it.

Comment by Becky

Hello again. I don’t think my request to join has shown up here yet (but I emailed you all of the requested information). In case the link does not come through again, I am TJ and blog at Toujours Jacques — I am posting about the challenge today. thank you.

Comment by TJ

[…] Michael Pollan [again] and a challenge April 24, 2008 — toujoursjacques I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about some really big and seemingly insurmountable crises—global warming, economic disaster, and world-wide food shortages (I said they were big!)—and specifically about their relationship one to another. In this post I want to come back to Michael Pollan’s recent New York Times article, “Why Bother,” (which I already posted about here) both because his new piece is still so fresh in my mind and because I’ve come across several bloggers in the last few days who are taking up in earnest one or more of these concerns, and inviting others to do the same. (At the end of this post you’ll find a very fine example; and I hope you will consider taking Emily’s Ecojustice08 Challenge.) […]

Pingback by Michael Pollan [again] and a challenge « Toujours Jacques

I’m in and will post tomorrow. I’ll just keep the posting to my blog,, if that’s okay. Just too many things to keep up with.
Thanks for this.

Comment by Andilit

And here are more suggestions: take the lift (elevator) instead of the stairs – healthy and energy conscious!
Forgo the take out morning coffee, or buy a reusable mug for it.

Comment by musingsfromthesofa

Great idea. I’m posting about it on my blog. Thanks.

Comment by Andi

This looks great Emily — thanks for organizing. I’m thinking about how we’ll participate. I can easily do #4 and do it often, since there’s so much within a 2-mile radius from my house. #2 sounds great too, as does #5, of course.

Comment by Dorothy W.

[…] of Anne of Green Gables, I went out to find a copy this afternoon (and, inspired by Emily’s Eco-justice Challenge, I walked!).  I had a complete set of the Anne books when I was a kid, but I left them behind when […]

Pingback by Book therapy « Of Books and Bicycles

Wow! I am absolutely overwhelmed by all the great response. No problem, those of you who just want to post on your own blogs and not bother to post here. Those of you who do want to post here, I’m adding you.

Thanks to all of you!

Comment by ecojustice08

Emily — I know I am a little late in getting in the game, but I am finally. This is such a fabulous idea and I am still thinking on what challenge I will take on. Definitely #5, of course. I was thinking I would modify one or two of these slightly to adjust for my life including a 6 year old. I look forward to reading about everyone’s progress.

Comment by ZoesMom

Oooh. Easy but not easy. Thank you. I’ll link and blog next week on this.

My personal bugbear is the tumble-drier. You can get cutely antique style clothes driers for the kitchen, wire gadgets that hang on radiators for the rest of the house, and driers that sit in or over the bath, and none of those get in the way of anyone at all. Not to mention washing lines for the summer. My Ma raised four of us in a house with three adults without a tumble-drier, and I use mine about once a quarter.

*breathes in*
*breathes out*
*steps down off hobby horse*
*pats hobby horse on neck soothingly*

How about “repair, mend, fix or darn at least one item which you would normally throw out”? It doesn’t have to be clothes, it could be an electrical item, or costume jewellery, or shoes.

Freecycle. Freecycle something every week. (Warning, freecycling can become addictive).

Garden. If you’re still setting challenges this time next year, please challenge us to grow salad crops or tomatoes in a grow bag. It’s easy to do and like freecycling its addictive and oddly attitude-changing.

Buy second-hand. Challenge us to consider buying second-hand instead of new – eg furniture, furnishings, books, even electrical items or jewelery. Clothes too. In fact, just about anything except food!

I’ll stop before I cause a flood, but I think this is a really good challenge, and it’s one I’m terrified of.

Thanks for being prepared to make us face up to it.


Comment by Aphra Behn

You know I’m in Emily. I’m going to take up the challenge of #6. And I’ll also try #5. I’ve always meant to read Rachel Carson.

Comment by Stefanie

Sign me up! (See email I sent you for info.)

This is a great idea Emily!

Comment by Cam

[…] April 28, 2008, 2:42 am Filed under: Uncategorized Thanks to AndiLit I heard about the 2008 EcoJustice Challenge. Read the directions below and see my […]

Pingback by EcoJustice Challenge « Unlikely Activist

[…] EcoJustice Challenge – are you up for it? April 28, 2008 — Aphra Behn I tumbles across Emily’s EcoJustice Challenge when reading Charlotte’s blog. Please read Emily’s whole post, in the meantime, […]

Pingback by Emily’s EcoJustice Challenge - are you up for it? « Aphra Behn - danger of eclectic shock

What a great and, surely, challenging idea. Duly posted it on my blog – and putting up yet an addition to the list: Bake your own bread. Tip: Use organic flour etc.

Comment by SG V

Hi Emily,
sorry for my late entry, I was attending a family celebration for my grandpa’s 90th birthday.
Not much choice left in your list for me except the blackout night. I will have to work out how the fridge and freezer will sustain the operation. Obviously, it’s much easier to live without those two when one is a vegetarian growing one’s own food than when one lives in the city and eats frozen burgers. I am somewhere in the middle.

And you can count me in as contributor to this blog.

Comment by mandarine

I figured you were just too busy farming and living a superbly green life to read this. Happy Birthday to your grandpa! 90. Wow! I didn’t think about the fridge and freezer. Maybe it’s okay to leave those things running, since wasted food is bad for the environment. Of course, you’re ingenious enough to come up with a solution, which I’m not. I imagine by the end of this summer, your freezer will be very well stocked.

Comment by ecojustice08

Well, if I am to do it right, I would have to turn off the main power switch. Otherwise it would be a complicated task of switching off just a few circuits. And after all, a blackout is supposed to be a blackout.

I think the freezer will be all right if the blackout is just for one night. But I will have to test what happens with the fridge.

And no, until I really telecommute, my life is not superbly green (I still ride 600 km a week on my paleo-diesel-train).

Comment by mandarine

Hi Emily. Found you by way of Zoe’s mom and Becky–I will definitely link to this; as I am on the Fairfield (CT) Earth Day committee, and our annual festival is this coming Saturday (May 10th). I have learned so much this first year on the committee, and I am thrilled to see challenges like this set up. I will definitely aim for #s 2 and 5 for now. Thanks again for doing this!

Comment by tracie

Great! Glad to have you on board. (More years ago than I’d like to admit, I volunteered for the Fairfield County Earth Day festival. It was great fun!)

Comment by Emily

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